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  1. #41
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    +51° 21' 8.64", +4° 6' 39.24"
    Posts
    858

    Default Re: Ostende and red diesel - BEWARE

    Quote Originally Posted by sailorman View Post
    Well 100% positive to date as no evidence of any fines has yet been posted. Its like IS propaganda, just frightens some for no reason
    Mmm...there is indeed no evidence that Belgian Customs have put Red Diesel Users' heads on spikes...yet.
    However, it does not mean that some of the incidents aren't real. The chap I spoke to in Dunkirk (earlier thread), had the fine imposed on him less than three hours earlier, in Nieuwpoort. He showed me (and another visiting Brit) the hand-written paperwork made up by the Belgian Customs. Since it was written in Dutch, I do not doubt its authenticity. I know his name, his boat's name, home port on the Orwell, and have a picture of his boat. But I have no intention of putting the info in a public forum for the sake of providing evidence, certainly not without his consent.
    Having indicated he was not overly enthousiastic to actually pay the fine, I can understand that other victims most probably feel the same. Ergo, also not eager to shout it from top of the mast. The 'other chap' he was talking to, who 'had a friend' who was fined, had never payed the fine. That works, but not always. As in an incident in Vlissingen some years ago, mentioned by the RYA, the Dutch Customs officers had the perpetrator marched to the nearest ATM to collect the dosh.
    That said, all three incidents I am aware of, and of which I do not doubt the authenticity, involved originally a discussion by the Scheepvaartpolitie on missing paperwork. In the case mentioned above it was not having the actual ship's papers on board (only a digital file on the PC, but for a good reason IMHO), no ship's name or home port, etc. Another case started with a dispute about the radar licence. In short, after having found incomplete documents, they had started to fine-comb for other issues.

    As for the mindset of the Police or Customs, it has not so much to do with Pragmatism or the Blind Obeying Of Rules. Unlike their Dutch counterparts, Belgian officials were in the past perceived as being too easy-going.
    As a visual example, Belgians have a deep disregard for building regulations. In Holland, you will find rows of almost identical houses. This is alien to a Belgian. He will built his house just a foot lower or higher than his neighbour's, choose a different kind of brick, use a different shade of paint. Likewise, until ten to fifteen years ago, fines for exceeding the speed limit were relatively rare and far-between. Many Dutch drove over their Southern border to enjoy their yellow Porches. In a nutshell, you could get away with more fun stuff than in the Netherlands. After a series of scathing articles in the Dutch media, the situation changed- I remember a story in De Waterkampioen (Holland's most popular boating magazine) on the same theme. Belgium got a few more years' red diesel derogation, which added to the image of Loose Morals. The Schengen treaty and the consequent disappearance of border controls meant also that surplus officers were allocated different duties. One of which, I don't doubt, was the, ahem, 'attention' bestowed on boaters.
    Will
    Parker 31/14 'Alchemist'

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Norfolk
    Posts
    10,788

    Default Re: Ostende and red diesel - BEWARE

    Thank you for that clarification, really helpful. Effectively it means that odds on I wouldn't be inspected for diesel but if my paperwork isn't 100% or I unintentionally annoy the customs guy or he is having a bad day or the harbourmaster hasn't told him to back off that week, then I'm in for a £1000 fine based on my boat's tankage. Plenty of other much nicer places to visit that have no intention of fining me. Belgium has said that they consider it illegal to carry red diesel and will fine you if you're caught with it. It shouldn't surprise anyone if they actually did what they said they would do

    Holland is on for next year, love the Dutchies and their approach to things, we'll just miss out Belgium en route.

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Brittany
    Posts
    15,620

    Default Re: Ostende and red diesel - BEWARE

    Quote Originally Posted by thalassa View Post
    That said, all three incidents I am aware of, and of which I do not doubt the authenticity, involved originally a discussion by the Scheepvaartpolitie on missing paperwork. In the case mentioned above it was not having the actual ship's papers on board (only a digital file on the PC, but for a good reason IMHO), no ship's name or home port, etc. Another case started with a dispute about the radar licence. In short, after having found incomplete documents, they had started to fine-comb for other issues.
    Thanks for the clarification/update. This puts things in perspective a bit.
    So this is not a witch hunt for red diesel, but when other irregularities (not carrying original ships papers) were found the owner had the book thrown at him.
    I wonder why? I can not help but think that some people bring it upon themselves. Attitude?

    Interesting to learn that the whole thing came about following an action by the Scheepvaartpolitie (Maritime Police).
    When we were last boarded by them in 2013, I particularly asked them about red diesel and they said that red diesel was no concern of theirs, but a matter for the Douane (Customs).
    That particular skipper must have really pissed off the copper for them to bring in customs.
    www.guapa.pn
    "Mieux vaut flotter sans grâce que couler en beauté…"

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Brightlingsea, Essex
    Posts
    986

    Default Re: Ostende and red diesel - BEWARE

    I agree 100% with Colvic Watson that since the Belgian law is that it's illegal to have red diesel you can't be surprised if you get fined regardless of what documentation or attitude you carry.

    However... we are more or less committed to taking part in a 'beginners' really to Ostend at the end of next week, so how can we be 100% sure that we have all of the required paperwork etc. in the correct format?

    Thus far I have or am acquiring:

    * SSR registration document (in the post)
    * Ship's radio license listing fixed DSC/VHF, handheld VHF, Radar, EPIRB (out of date and due for replacement - better not to list it?, if I hire a PRB must I list that?)
    * VHF operator's license
    * Proof of purchase & VAT paid on vessel
    * VAT receipts for fuel to show 100% duty paid on at least capacity of the tank (don't have all of this yet)
    * Boat name is on both sides of the bow
    * SSR no. on both sides of superstructure

    We have no home port or boat name on transom. Issue? If so what constitutes a 'port' in this context?

    Anything else we need (other than passports) in the way of documentation, equipment etc?

    Any other tips on how to placate the officialdom? Stella Artois on display?

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    +51° 21' 8.64", +4° 6' 39.24"
    Posts
    858

    Default Re: Ostende and red diesel - BEWARE

    Quote Originally Posted by OR4751 View Post
    Thanks for the clarification/update. This puts things in perspective a bit.
    So this is not a witch hunt for red diesel, but when other irregularities (not carrying original ships papers) were found the owner had the book thrown at him.
    I wonder why? I can not help but think that some people bring it upon themselves. Attitude?

    Interesting to learn that the whole thing came about following an action by the Scheepvaartpolitie (Maritime Police).
    When we were last boarded by them in 2013, I particularly asked them about red diesel and they said that red diesel was no concern of theirs, but a matter for the Douane (Customs).
    That particular skipper must have really pissed off the copper for them to bring in customs.
    It was indeed the Maritime Police at first. They have quite regularly a craft stationed halfway the long channel entering Nieuwpoort, starboard side. From what I heard (so secondhand) they often fine boaters for exceeding the speed limit, motorsailing in without displaying the famous inverted cone, or flying an incorrect flag. Most of the time, this is a Belgian national flag defaced in the middle with a 'Flemish' lion. Its use is allocated to official regional craft only.
    In the case of the skipper involved, I don't know what triggered the investigation. It seemed to me he was a nice and polite enough chap. It might be of interest to know the checking for the marked diesel was purely on sight.
    Will
    Parker 31/14 'Alchemist'

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    12,477

    Default Re: Ostende and red diesel - BEWARE

    Out of interest, what do they regard as acceptable proof of VAT paid status? Our boat is just a couple of years old, and bought from the UK main Beneteau dealer. All we have is their invoice marked "Paid" - but it is a word processed document in English, signed by their sales director and ourselves. It is several pages long, listing all the items included in the boat and the staged payments we made as we paid for the boat. If you read it in enough detail, it does show the VAT paid, with the date of completion of the transactions, but it is not a clear document and could be difficult and time consuming for a non-English speaker to understand.

  7. #47
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    +51° 21' 8.64", +4° 6' 39.24"
    Posts
    858

    Default Re: Ostende and red diesel - BEWARE

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeBz View Post
    Thus far I have or am acquiring:

    * SSR registration document (in the post)
    * Ship's radio license listing fixed DSC/VHF, handheld VHF, Radar, EPIRB (out of date and due for replacement - better not to list it?, if I hire a PRB must I list that?)
    * VHF operator's license
    * Proof of purchase & VAT paid on vessel
    * VAT receipts for fuel to show 100% duty paid on at least capacity of the tank (don't have all of this yet)
    * Boat name is on both sides of the bow
    * SSR no. on both sides of superstructure
    We have no home port or boat name on transom. Issue? If so what constitutes a 'port' in this context?
    Anything else we need (other than passports) in the way of documentation, equipment etc?
    Any other tips on how to placate the officialdom? Stella Artois on display?
    Well, I can't think of any other red tape to add to your list, apart from a Schengen crew list . I've been told that they fill that form themselves, using the available passports. There is no standard form for the list in the countries involved. The official Dutch, Belgian and French one have a different layout. Funnily enough, the only time I had to show a crew list was to an UKBA officer in Shotley last year.
    When the scheme started years ago, I offered my list in duplicate to the harbour master at Nieuwpoort on my return from the Sussex coast. He said 'Oh... thank you... would you be so kind to classify them for me? ...and pointed to the litter bin.
    As to 'home port'... Ships should show the port where they are officially registered. Small vessels normally display the name of the place where the boat is kept. It is, strictly speaking, not required to show it, but actively encouraged. The name of the boat must be 'clearly visible', no specification . If there is a transom, the home port can go there. The usual minimum norm is 7 cm high.
    As an aside, in the Netherlands, it is even required to have the owner's name/telephone number on display. This is usual for motorboats in inland waters.
    As for equipment, a compass and a bucket(pail) with a rope is required. And the usual flares. AFAIK from experience the interest in equipment is rare, apart from French waters.
    Not strictly necessary, but confidence-inducing, is a large Stella Artois flag. A Duvel one is even better. But, under NO circumstance, a Heineken flag. You will be ignored or worse by the natives.
    Parker 31/14 'Alchemist'

  8. #48
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Here or there
    Posts
    76,942

    Default Re: Ostende and red diesel - BEWARE

    Quote Originally Posted by thalassa View Post
    Well, I can't think of any other red tape to add to your list, apart from a Schengen crew list . I've been told that they fill that form themselves, using the available passports. There is no standard form for the list in the countries involved. The official Dutch, Belgian and French one have a different layout. Funnily enough, the only time I had to show a crew list was to an UKBA officer in Shotley last year.
    When the scheme started years ago, I offered my list in duplicate to the harbour master at Nieuwpoort on my return from the Sussex coast. He said 'Oh... thank you... would you be so kind to classify them for me? ...and pointed to the litter bin.
    As to 'home port'... Ships should show the port where they are officially registered. Small vessels normally display the name of the place where the boat is kept. It is, strictly speaking, not required to show it, but actively encouraged. The name of the boat must be 'clearly visible', no specification . If there is a transom, the home port can go there. The usual minimum norm is 7 cm high.
    As an aside, in the Netherlands, it is even required to have the owner's name/telephone number on display. This is usual for motorboats in inland waters.
    As for equipment, a compass and a bucket(pail) with a rope is required. And the usual flares. AFAIK from experience the interest in equipment is rare, apart from French waters.
    Not strictly necessary, but confidence-inducing, is a large Stella Artois flag. A Duvel one is even better. But, under NO circumstance, a Heineken flag. You will be ignored or worse by the natives.
    Would a used Duval trippel bottle hoisted from the yardarm suffice.
    Ps Willi I met a chap in Goes (from Paal) with a flat bottom red boat who knows you.
    Last edited by sailorman; 28-07-15 at 17:28.

  9. #49
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Norfolk
    Posts
    10,788

    Default Re: Ostende and red diesel - BEWARE

    Quote Originally Posted by OR4751 View Post
    Thanks for the clarification/update. This puts things in perspective a bit.
    So this is not a witch hunt for red diesel, but when other irregularities (not carrying original ships papers) were found the owner had the book thrown at him.
    I wonder why? I can not help but think that some people bring it upon themselves. Attitude?

    That particular skipper must have really pissed off the copper for them to bring in customs.
    A long time ago I lost the naive assumption that police and officials are naturally benign and only turn nasty when we provoke them. There are the best - honest, loyal and fair minded; then there are regular officers who have a bad day from time to time; and there are bad apples just like all professions. The problem with Belgium is that all three of those categories of copper are instructed by their govt to fine for the possession of red diesel. Sure the first category will turn a blind eye, but the others? How lucky do you feel?

  10. #50
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Here or there
    Posts
    76,942

    Default Re: Ostende and red diesel - BEWARE

    Quote Originally Posted by Colvic Watson View Post
    A long time ago I lost the naive assumption that police and officials are naturally benign and only turn nasty when we provoke them. There are the best - honest, loyal and fair minded; then there are regular officers who have a bad day from time to time; and there are bad apples just like all professions. The problem with Belgium is that all three of those categories of copper are instructed by their govt to fine for the possession of red diesel. Sure the first category will turn a blind eye, but the others? How lucky do you feel?
    The last time we were checked the chap was a republican and was detailed to accompany the King on his visit to oostende. He was not overly happy with the prospect but still enjoyed his (real) coffee. Non of that ersatz English krap most drink.

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